Simply a position that "he" does not exist.
"The prefix "a" means "without", so the term "a-theism" literally means
"without theism", or without belief in a god or gods. ATHEISM, THEREFORE, IS
THE ABSENCE OF THEISTIC BELIEF. ... Atheism, in its basic form, is not a belief
: it is the absence of belief. An atheist is not primarily a person who
BELIEVES that a god does NOT exist, rather, he does NOT BELIEVE in the
existence of a god.
There are many reasons why one may not believe in he existence of a god
: one may have never encounterted the concept of a god before, or one may
consider the idea of a supernatural being to be absurd, or one may think that
there is no evidence to support the belief in a god. But regardless of the
reason, if one does not believe in the existence of a god, one is an atheist,
i.e., one is without theistic belief.
But what of agnosticism? Apparently the term was coined by Thomas
Huxley (Darwin's spokesman against the Archbiship Samual Wilberforce) in 1869.
Huxley was unsure of his view. Essentially he maintained that the supernatural
was beyond the comprehension of humans even if a god did exist. The term came
from Gnostics, an early religious sect who claimed knowledge of the
super-natural. Thus, to him, the prefix "a" to Gnostics was appropriate,
hence agnostic (as opposed to the "isms" of the other two).
There are two types of agnostics --theistic and atheistic. If you feel
that you cannot believe in, or are unsure of your belief in, a god because
there is no proof either way, you are not an agnostic, you are an atheist. If
you feel you don't believe there is a god because if it existed it would be
intrinsic-ally unknowable, then you are an atheistic agnostic. If you believe
there is a god but it is intrinsically unknowable then you are a theistic
agnostic. This was the initial intent of the term "agnostic" by its originator
There are two types of atheism --explicit and implicit. An explicit
atheist rejects the notion put to him that there is a god. It requires a
conscious effort to be an explicit atheist. Implicit atheism is quite
different. We are all born implicit atheists, ALL OF US!, for without ever
being told there is a god, you have no prior knowledge of one. You could go
your whole life never been told a religious position, and remain an implicit
atheist (this is your position if you are unsure due to lack of evidence.).
It is commonly claimed that there is just as much responsibility for
the atheist to defeat the theist's view as a theist is to support his view.
Thus we hear theists say to atheists "prove God does not exist!" Fortunately,
atheists are not required to prove god does not exist, it is up to the theists
to prove he does. The reason for this is simple. Science does not work by
disproving things proposed to it. If true, then science would never get
anywhere as it runs around trying to disprove things which do not exist. It is
up to the person positing the positive (ie god DOES exist) to provide the
proof, not the person in the negative (ie god DOES NOT exist) position.
Here is an example of what I mean. Say, for this discussion, I believe
there are two moons orbiting the earth. I would then be called a "duallunist".
Since everyone else in the world does not accept this to be true, they are all
"a-duallunists". They have not invented that position of an aduallunist, I
created it when I became a duallunist. Also, it is not up to the aduallunists
to disprove me, it is my responsibility to prove to them there are two moons.
So until the theists give evidence for their god, atheists are under absolutely
no obligation to disprove it, under the scientific method (which is the only
method one would have to use to prove god exists). When the theists do propose
some "evidence" for their god, then the atheists can sit down and examine the
"evidence" to see if it is viable. So far it all has not.
There are several "evidences" which the theists have proposed. The most
basic of all is the argument from design. The theists claim that the universe
is far more complex that a watch, and if you were to find a watch in the desert
you must conclude that there was a watch maker. Thus, the theists claim, there
must be a grand Designer for the universe.
There are many flaws with this type of argument, but the most important
problem is that the theists must prove that the universe was designed in the
first place. There is no evidence that the universe was designed, but instead
it shows all the evidence that it simply abides by physical laws.
In his book, Smith shows three reasons why the design argument is
1) the argument from design implys a teleological position. That is,
there is some end or goal for the universe. There is a goal, or intent for a
watch, but the universe shows no signs of going specifically anywhere.
2) the anological argument, where the theists compare the universe to human
artifacts, fails because
a) there is no indication of one "designer", but, if anything, actually
b) undesirable attributes of the universe, such as floods, earthquakes,
parasitism, would imply a rather devious designer.
c) the theist must demonsrate that "purpose", such as the purpose of a
watch, of the universe exists, which he cannot.
3) this is life itself. That there is no way that life could have arisen by
"blind chance", it must have been placed here. This is just a special form
of 2), and it can be shown that life shows no "purpose", no "design" (other
than what natural selection imposes). This is so well exposed as false in
Richard Dawkin's book THE BLIND WATCHMAKER.
Smith summerizes this whole argument with "one must first know that a
god exists before one can say that nature exibits design." And since there
is no proof of a god in the first place the design argument is fallicious.
Other "evidence" for a god comes from the anthropomorphic principle, or
the argument from authority. The appeal to "I know He (god) exists because I
have felt Him." is an argument from authority. It carries no value as
evidence because it is unverifiable by all parties.
In conclusion, it is not my intent to disuade anyone from believing in
their god. I certianly do not want to become the anti-theist that atheism is
erroneously labled. My intent was to convince all parties that atheism is a
non-existent position, created (pun intended) by the theists when they propose
there is a god.
As an end note, the title of Smith's book, ATHEISM: THE CASE AGAINST
GOD, seems to indiate that it is attacking the belief in a god. It does indeed
do this, and very well, from logic alone. It is not attacking the belief in
order to support atheism. Atheism, cannot be supported because it is the
absence of belief. However, the attacks on the theistic belief is done from
the perspective of healthy skepticism and direct challenge. If your belief in
a god cannot stand up to scrutiny, if you cannot meet the challenge, then
maybe it is a weak belief in the first place. The book should be read by
atheists and theists alike.
I have many more points as to why I reject the theistic belief, and
especially Christianity and the Bible, beacause it strips of its followers all
self esteem, you Sinners you! for example; it keeps its followers in line by
fear and greed (the reward of hell and heaven); it is contradictory,
especially the Bible; it promotes racism (remember slavery was supported
because Christians claimed the blacks were not human); it is anti-women,
anti-child; to name a few. If there is a god, that is NOT how it would
behave. But I will leave those objections for another essay.
The theist is on the defense; he can destroy atheism only by defending
his belief in a god. If his defence fails, theism fails --and atheism emerges
as the only rational alternative.